Message from Ambassador ITO Naoki

2021/10/26
It has already been two years since I assumed my responsibility as the Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh in October 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted economic activities and cultural and people’s exchanges between Japan and Bangladesh during the one and half years. Despite these difficulties, Prime Minister SUGA Yoshihide sent a video message to strengthen our relationship at the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh's independence and the birth centenary of the first President, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in March. In the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, 6 Bangladeshi athletes participated, and the Minister of State for Youth and Sports, Zahid Ahsan Russel, and his wife also visited Japan. Since March, "Japan Fest 2021" has been made available online (YouTube) and reached many views. In addition, last year, Bangladesh became the world largest recipient country of yen loans (approximately 332 billion yen on a commitment basis). Even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been a year of deepening friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries.

Five years have passed last July since the tragic terrorist attack in Dhaka. I offered my sincere condolences to those Japanese nationals who lost their lives, together with Mr. KANO Tetsuro, President of the Japanese Association in Dhaka, and Mr. KAWAI Hikari, President of the Dhaka Japan Commerce and Industry Association. I renewed my determination to work harder for the development of Bangladesh and strengthen bilateral relations without letting the incident fade away.

From July to August, Japan provided more than 3 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine with Bangladesh. The gift from the Japanese people was to meet the needs of the people of Bangladesh facing the threat of COVID-19 infection. We will also continue our efforts to make the vaccination available further to Japanese citizens in Bangladesh.

Currently, large-scale infrastructure projects that symbolize the rapid economic growth of Bangladesh are steadily underway. The flagship projects are Dhaka Metro, expansion of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Jamuna Railway Bridge, and Matarbari Deep Sea Port. A trial run of Dhaka Metro Line 6 began in August, which is expected to open by the end of 2022. At the same time, we will redouble our efforts to improve the investment climate for Japanese companies as they expand their investment and their business. We will continue to address customs clearance, overseas remittance, import transaction settlement, and taxation challenges.

As the largest development partner, Japan will keep working towards improving regional connectivity through infrastructure projects, as well as for the development and the stability of Bangladesh and the Indo-Pacific region as a whole. Japan will promote practical cooperation with Bangladesh to realize the vision of "Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)" for peace, stability, and prosperity in the region.
Resolving the issue of the Rohingya refugees is also crucial from the perspective of realizing FOIP. The recent situation in Myanmar since the coup last February has made the repatriation of refugees more difficult. As the crisis is protracted, it is urgent to improve the condition of refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, including education, skill training, and livelihood. We welcome the MOU recently signed between the government of Bangladesh and UN agencies to cooperate in the relocation plan of the refugees to Bashan Char Island. Japan will work with the international community for humanitarian assistance and the repatriation of the displaced people.

Ahead of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations next year, the new Kishida Cabinet started at the beginning of this month. In a letter addressed to Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio stated that he would strive to deepen cooperation between the two countries. The Government of Japan will work vigorously to deepen understanding of Japan further, expand people-to-people exchange and promote Japanese culture in Bangladesh, by holding the anniversary events in 2022.

For the sake of the safety and security of Japanese people living in Bangladesh and visitors to Bangladesh, the embassy will make every effort to build a better relationship between Japan and Bangladesh in all fields, while asking for your opinions and cooperation.

Thank you for your continued support for the development of our bilateral partnership.

 ITO Naoki
Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh